Beautiful Castelsardo

Pretty and shady alleys, terraces overlooking the sea, rather severe looking buildings, old ladies weaving baskets with the dexterity of a dancer.A succession of strips of poetry, this is Castelsardo. It is  a splendid example of a medieval village looking onto the Gulf of Asinara, and only 30 km north of Sassari and 80 km from Alghero. Castelsardo (Sardinian castle)  is known for its very evocative castle, positioned on a rock  fortress for over 900 years, but until two hundred years ago it had two other names before coming to its "real essence". The Doria Domination The castle was built around 1100 by the very powerful Doria family who had come to Sardinia from Genoa in search of new land to conquer and, eager to mark the territory, they called the castle cum village "Castelgenovese". (more…)

Sardinian knives..what an art.

Very few are probably aware that in Sardinia lies a great tradition and art in the creation of knives. Once you start investigating, a whole new world opens out made up of different materials, styles, blades, transforming the object into a real work of art. The knives are divided into two kinds;  la leppa, a knife with a fixed blade, and resolza, a folding knife. Another crucial characteristic comes from the shape of the blade, also in two kinds; the wide, rounded blade is used by hunters and called foglia di lauro (laurel leaf) whereas the thin blade used by shepherds is called foglia di grano (wheat leaf) . So these are the fundamental aspects of all knives which go on to have infinite nuances. The Sardinian collectors' knives for example,have finely cut, laminated and damacus blades, consisting in hundreds of metal sheets pressed together (damacus) creating a pattern that resembles fingerprints or wood. The handles are often made with the horns of  mutton, in the shape of a boar head, of a mufflon sheep, a dog.. extraordinary. The main area where these small “works of art” are made is concentrated in the south west of the island, in Guspini and Arbus, roughly 60 km above Carbonia. (more…)

Traditions in Orgosolo and Alghero

Orgosolo is a charming village at the foot of Mount Lisorgoni, located in one of the most suggestive foresty territories of Sardinia.  This small village in the province of Nuoro is known at an international scale for its beautiful murales, these are paintings on the walls of houses which were initially introduced in the mid 1970s as a social protest. The murales in fact depict the struggles, denunciations and conquests of a village community and a country. The many denunciations include the Spanish Civil war, the 1st world war massacre in Caporetto led by the General Cadorna (in via Cadorna) , though the more recent murales  simply represent idyllic portraits of village and country life. Changing subject but not location, in Orgosolo, on the 31st of December, the traditional "Sa Candelaria" celebration takes place.“ Sa Candelaria” is a children's celebration in which all children leave home early in the morning and walk along the streets with a bag made of cloth on their shoulders. The children go from door to door asking for bread made specifically for the occasion, together with fruit and cakes. From the crack of dawn to midday one can hear the endless chanting of “a nolla dazes sa candelaria?” (“can you give us some candelaria?”) basically a Sardinian "trick or a treat, without the trick. Alas, I haven't been able to discover the meaning of Candelaria. Each family offers the children “sos cocònes”(a typical bread of the area), fruit, biscuits, sweets, toys (!) and the odd coin. The Sa Candelaria party goes on in the evening, as adults go out in groups and sing well wishing songs to all the newly weds that have married in the course of the year. (more…)

Christmas cribs to visit

Christmas is approaching..the lights, crisp air, shop windows  are  the definite  signs and being a Christmas lover  the sensation is quite inebriating as it always fills me with a feeling of warmth and elation, beating recession, cold and all, and  bringing back lots of happy childhood memories. Putting up the Christmas decorations was no easy task, I remember my grandfather standing on a ladder whilst struggling with drawing pins on the ceiling and  later the inevitable collapse of one of  the garlands. Thus out came the ladder again..Eventually though  the house was transformed and a joy to look at. Another moment of fun was the Christmas crib, my brother and I would choose the positioning of the shepherds  amongst some very old  miniatures which included  noseless angels  and different sized animals . Cribs are a source of fascination, I love  the miniatures and the ingeniousness of their settings; moss, cotton wool, talcum powder, mirrors, aluminium, matchboxes, shoe-boxes all assume a different meaning. I have a friend who fills an entire room with a state of the art nativity set equipped with a stream of  actual running water and moving figures! So I thoroughly enjoy going to see nativity cribs which are quite a speciality in Sardinia, here there is  an assortment to go and visit, from live ones with real people to some genuine artistic treasures with beautiful miniatures in a variety of different materials, ranging from hand painted wood to cork, porcelain and bread dough! For example, in Gergei, a small town near Cagliari, the “Sa Nascimenta”,  is organized. This  is a living and itinerant Christmas nativity in which on Christmas Eve, a hundred ”actors” or so put on old costumes and relive the Christmas events alongside their spectators. (more…)

The Sardinian dialect..oops…language

Sardinian is a language not a dialect. Incredible but true! A regional law of  1997 and a National law in 1999 confirmed this.  The laws were introduced in order to safeguard linguistic minorities and recognized the heartfelt battle for the political recognition of the Sardinian language. In this way, the various towns can draw up official documents in both languages and it’s not rare to find road signs in Sardinian! SARDINIAN Sardinian belongs to the Romance languages group and is spoken by  1.3 million people. It is  split  into four distinct variations: campidanese (spoken in the old province of Cagliari), logudorese  (widespread in the old provinces of Nuoro), sassarese (spoken in the  area from Sassari to Stintino) and gallurese (in the Olbia – Tempio area). The first two have a structure and synthax which is practically unvaried with respect to their Latin roots. Whereas,  sassarese and gallurese have been greatly influenced by the domination of Pisa and Genoa as well as by the migrations of people from Corsica. (more…)